This article was originally posted on WomenLearnThai.com.
Learning Thai: L-Lingo, Learn Thai Podcast, and Rosetta Stone…
I have a very logical mind. My job is software development, quality assurance in software engineering and search engine optimization. My hobby is chess and on my holidays I solve Sudokos.
My mind is always working. I want to “understand” the software problem, the position on the chess board, and the structure of languages. But as I have no “feeling” for foreign languages, I have to “build” the sentences, piece by piece.
I started learning Thai with Rosetta Stone, but had nearly no progress. Learning without translation and grammar was impossible for me. Frustrated, I stopped studying Thai for 12 months.
With L-Lingo I found a similar concept to Rosetta Stone: pictures, audios, Thai- and Latin-writing, translations and lessons. But there was no introduction to grammar, and I needed it. I thought “I will never understand, I have to memorize the sentences”.
I found the grammar explanations the most important advantage of Learn Thai Podcast (LTP). The grammar introduction helped me to “understand” the sentences and get a feeling for the structure of the Thai language. Also, being able to download mp3 lessons to listen to while traveling in Germany was a huge help.
After some weeks with LTP I had a basic understanding of Thai so I again tried Rosetta Stone. Rosetta Stone uses a very intensive method to repeat and check the content. And while I don’t feel that it is possible to learn solely with Rosetta Stone, I did find it helpful to repeat the basic lessons.
Rosetta Stone and L-Lingo have a better course structure and statistics than LTP. They say “follow me, I show you the next lesson”. In LTP there are hundreds of lessons, and I have to repeat each lesson until I have learned it. With LTP there are no tests and no visual indicators for my progress.
So my breakthrough with the Thai language started with LTP, but I learn vocabulary best with L-Lingo. For my Thai studies so far, I’ve been using a mix of three courses: start with LTP to learn “content”, learn vocabulary with pictures and quizzes with L-Lingo, and finish with the intensive tests in Rosetta Stone.
Reviewing the L-Lingo update…
When L-Lingo updated this week I was asked give my opinion. The new grammar notes are a good introduction for beginners, and if I had this software a year ago I would have seen much more progress in my Thai studies.
Each lesson is introduced with a short summary and grammar notes for the lesson. The new words needed to understand the sentences are also introduced. I found this angle very good for my learning style.
In comparison to LTP, the L-Lingo grammar notes are shorter and easier. LTP’s grammar instructions are much deeper. For instance, in LTP, when teaching “how to ask questions”, the question words and how to place them in sentences is explained.
LTP is more helpful for me because after learning basic vocabulary I am now creating real life sentences. In addition, the grammar lessons in LTP are labeled, so I can choose lessons that are interesting to me.
L-Lingo has matching grammar notes for each lesson, while LTP has grammar notes for topics. Both ways are good, but for learning grammar I prefer the LTP way. To learn the grammar together with the vocabulary in the course program of L-Lingo, the grammar notes are a good solution. Maybe L-Lingo can extend the notes (I cannot explain what I’m missing, but it feels a little bit short for me).
In some notes from L-Lingo the explanation for new words are in the examples (but I haven’t checked to see if L-Lingo introduces every new word). For me, it is important to know the words being used, even if they are not in the exercises. Here LTP is nearly perfect for me because every word in every example is translated. And even if the words are not in the exercises, you get a feeling for the common words like “have”, “is”, “he”, “they”, “everybody”, and how to use them.
L-Lingo made a big step in the right direction with the grammar notes but I will continue with my method of learning by using the three courses together: LTP, L-Lingo and Rosetta Stone.
Learning languages is very hard for me (even getting new English vocabulary is not easy). Now, with LTP and L-Lingo, I am making progress in Thai. Week after week I see that my vocabulary is extending. Sometimes I even understand words in Thai movies or songs 🙂
In spring next year I will try “learning with Skype“. I want to have human partner for speaking and understanding, for discussions and getting into unexpected situations.
10 thoughts on “Review: L-Lingo, Learn Thai Podcast, and Rosetta Stone”
Carol, I’m not much of a fan of Rosetta Stone either. L-Lingo is similar and in my opinion much better designed.
David Smyth’s Complete Thai is another I like quite well (there’s a review around here somewhere).
Rosetta Stone is arguably the worst language course value in existence: expensive, and next to useless.
David Smyth’s Complete Thai – book and CDs – is on sale at Amazon for around 20 bucks. It’s head and shoulders above RS.
I started with Rosetta Stone, then a number of different “Teach Yourself” type books, then LTP. None really worked. The reasons are many. The way my mind works, I need to know and understand the whys and wherefores. I am a totally disorganised learner. I need to be forced into a proper schedule. My motivation for learning is high, but I need an external structure and someone checking on me. When young, I was good at languages, now I’m old, I have difficulty getting vocabulary, at least, to stick. I finally discovered a learn via skype teacher As far as I am concerned, it is the only way to learn. She has changed course in the lessons to suit my learning style. Like one of the correspondents on here, I find learning through Thai script is easiest (visual memory) I get a lot of cultural background to make the context of the learning more appropriate and also when we have a lesson like one this week, when I am feeling down about my inability to remeber vocabulary or something, she ends up with a little test carefully designed to prove to me how much I do know – great motivator. Most important perhaps is the fact that we have 3 one hour lessons a week with written homework between lessons so I have Thai learning work every day. The structure that I need for learning None of the other resources are wasted. i pick them up and read or listen random bits every day, I also use this site a lot for interesting background. Until my teacher pointed me at the article here about greng jai, I had never heard the term, now I am for ever using it!! I still do need to find a good source here for Thai reading material at my level (still a beginner) I would love to see ebook readers.
Martyn, Rosetta Stone uses the same formula throughout their courses. Same objects. Same sentences. So what they are missing out is the cultural aspect of each language. And boy, are they megga expensive! If you aim to try out Rosetta Stone, Pantip has all of their Thai products.
Catherine and Reiner
I’ve never used Rosette Stone’s language courses before but I have seen them dotted all over the media’s outlets. I guess saturation is one form of advertising tact. I have looked into the courses and I would say they are probably a decent starting point for someone who wants to get the basics of a language. The problem is, the Rosetta Stone series covers so many different languages, which makes me wonder if it is a Jack of all and master of none.
I would figure that using a series that is a specialist in one particular language would be a more profitable way to go.
I counted 31 different language courses on the Rosetta Stone web page and a basic building blocks Thai course ran in at £169 (8,000 baht). That’s pretty steep for basic sentence structure. Then again Rosetta is probably sat in a mansion with gold bathroom taps and me…..I still don’t even own a shoot and snap camera. I guess the series is doing something right.
Kris, I much prefer L-Lingo to Rosetta Stone for Thai. L-Lingo has taken the concept and certainly improved on it. L-Lingo is also dedicated to improving their product, so please give them your thoughts if you have the time.
Today I came across another interactive program called Fluenz, but it’s for the top languages only: French, Spanish, Chinese (typical, yes?) I’ll try it out anyway, just because I’m curious.
When I started learning Thai I tried Rosetta stone. I had used it before to study Japanese. Rosetta is totally useless to study Thai if you don’t have other sources to learn the grammar and reading. And even if you’ve other sources, Rosetta stone isn’t very good.
Talen, I used Rosetta Stone for French (แพง มาก!) and it was slow going.
And while I do agree that having a human teacher is a huge help, most of the real work, the homework, is done outside the classroom – One hour class time to three hours study time is the ideal I believe.
This means that other resources are needed/helpful, whether it’s recordings or whatever. And have I got a resource for you… coming next/soon/grand pumpkin willing.
Paul, I have the two Thai Rosetta Stone courses available and compared to the others they do not cover a huge lot. But like Reiner mentioned, the drills can be way handy.
And LTP does take a large chunk of discipline, agreed. But with the sound files, the downloads, the vocab tests, they do make it easier for us.
As you know, I too have my mini-moments where I’m dedicated to my Thai studies, followed by a stretch of months where I’m not. So I keep saying to myself that as long as I don’t quit, I’m still ahead. How’s that for a suitable mantra?
I used Rosetta Stone a few years ago and thought it was quite limited. I was disappointed that there weren’t as many additional units as there seems to be with some other languages. Maybe this has changed now. I also used the Learning Thai Podcast for about six months. I was impressed with the material, but I just ran out of steam with this approach – this was my fault and not the course. My Thai vocabulary is quite large and I read reasonably well; I’ve just hit a plateau again though because I just don’t have the time.
Cat, I felt very frustrated with Rosetta Stone as well. I really feel that it’s not possible to learn Thai with this program, in many cases it made me wonder just what words I was learning as the picture wasn’t always as obvious as it should be.
LTP’s approach is much better and gives you a better understanding of exactly what you are learning. I still think the best way to learn is one on one with a Thai speaker or in a small class such as I am taking. You can ask questions and get the fundamentals down well.
Without learning the grammar and sentence structure you will definitely do yourself a disservice with a lot of software out there. Little things like knowing how Thai sentences are structured is so important to know and yet I have seen little to none of this explained in many resources.